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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 20, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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and leadership of the feminine mystique as a transformative moment for many women who began to question their familiar and professional roles. this is about 75 minutes. ..
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>> she was afraid to ask evening of herself the silent question, is this all? people who read the book 50 years later can sometimes still quote the words. sometimes they went on, the woman would try to blot out the feeling with a tranquilizer. sometimes she thought the problem was her husband, children, or redecorate her house, move to a new neighborhood, or have an affair. more often, according to the women that i interviewed, they thought the problem was in themselves and could only be solved by fixing themselves. they begged their physicians and psychiatrist if they could afford one to tell them what it was and how to make it go away. friedan's book is an extended plea to convince feelings that the women's feelings were
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legitimate. the source of the problem with no name was that we lived in a culture that did not allow women as they did men to gratify a need that was just as important as sex. contrary what we hear nowadays the need to grow and fulfill the potential as human beings. deny that position, ridiculed, many women developed a hunger that neither food nor sex could sale. the response was electric. one the highlights of researching this book for me was when i was able to track down 188 women and men who had read "the feminine mystique" they could quote whole sentences, passages, where they were, and how it made them feel. relief. i knew i was not alone. the things i thought were wrong
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with me, i realize might suddenly be right with me. one the intellectual giants that i know as a sociologist today, steel trap, i would never have imagined it to be. they sat around saying you are going to be punished. selfish women are always punished. she started crying. halfway down the book, she flushed her tranquilizers down the toilet. i have to say it took me a while to wind the down my interviews to 188. when people first heard i was looking for individuals that had read "the feminine mystique" they were sure they had. but the comments were clear they did not. they had wide memories. it documented all of the ways that women are discriminated and work in laws and economics.
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even though friedan barely mentions those issues. other encouraged them to seek fulfillment by me-first consumerisms, and going after the ideas that friedan condemns. one insisted this was the book that told women to burn their bras. although i hope nobody in the building knows that no such thing happened. friedan's book led to passion when we didn't know words like sexism or chauvinism. the title conjured up the image and it became the receptacle about people's hopes and fear about feminism and family life to the point that people that read it think it's like the bible. they know exactly what it says. as it happens, i was one of those people. i was approached to be the
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biography of "the feminine mystique." somehow i had came to believe i had read the book because i heard so much about my mother and other books. i said okay. i assigned it to my poor class and sat down to read it. halfway through the first chapter realized that i had never read it, and i couldn't believe, you know, first of all, how dated it was in so many ways. but also how modest it's proposals for change very. how uncontroversial his ideals were. that's the real story. that's the reason it's important to recapture this period and to understand what went on it. why it seems so radical and stirred up so much emotion on both sides of the story for friedan to say as she previewed an exert from her book in "good housekeeping" in 1961.
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you know how magazines like to generate the provocative titles. this is provocative. "i say women are people too." today that does not sound provocative page turner title. at the time, this was not self-evident. in fact, it was a considered a terrible mistake. leading experts explicitly argued because this was a direct quote for society to regard it's citizens as people, rather than as primarily as males and females. who occupied different roles and had completely different natures. so sometimes today, you know, we get kind of warn down by the stresses of juggling work and family. i suspect a lot of people in this room do. but we forget the price people paid when they didn't have to balance work and family and, in fact, when they were penalized when they tried to do so. when women who wanted a meaningful work life were accused of suffering from a bad
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case of penis envy. that's what they were told. when men who wanted to get more involved in child care and again direct quote from the 1950's sociologist were expected of having a little bit too much fat on the inner thigh. i'm going to spend most of my time here talking about the price that women paid for the division and why they responded. i want to get to the point briefly as to what men paid as well. because men paid a price for this division too. i think most people probably have a very good idea of the obstacles that working women faced back in the 1960s. it was okay to go to work, by the way, in fact, women, housewives were often called parasites if they stayed at home once their children were grown. what they weren't supposed to do was to get two of the leading psychiatrist get what they called a career.
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they defined that job plus prestige. nothing that would pay well enough to threaten their husband or be interesting enough for primary commitment. if she wanted to work, she had to open the paper to the help wanted female section. i went through the entire april 1962 ads in the "new york times". they were for pretty looking cheerful gals, receptionist, this ad was repeated a couple of times. he must have had high standards. you must be really beautiful. some ads did request a college grad. but that requirement was inevitably accompanied with one other, which i bet you can guess, must have good typing skills. once hire, women were paid less than men for exactly the same work. as late as 1970, a woman working full time with a college degree,
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and this was also true for black male graduate colleges, earned less a white male high school graduate. nothing kept an employee from firing if she married, became pregnant, or even in the airline industry put on a few pound or reached the ripe old age of 30. when one airline -- you know, there was a maternity leave. i did discover one maternity leave. one airline said if a woman had a miscarriage or her child died within the first year, she could get her job back with no loss of seniority. there was no resource against a woman being fired because she failed to put out, or because she complained when someone felt her up. not until 1993 was sexual harassment on the job made illegal. i could go on about this, and i do go on a little bit in the one the chapters of my book. what i want to do is turn to something that i think surprises most modern audiences even more.
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and to understand in a culture where as rebecca points out we are always being invited to partake in the mommy wars and people seem to think the prevalence of working women and the reforms have undermined the prestige of the home making. i wanted to point out how little security the home wives and mothers had before friedan and the women's movement came along. the 1940s, '50s, and '60s were a period when americans were being subjected to the barrage of attacks on motherhoods and stay-at-home moms. sons were being told to snap the silver cord that psychiatrist said their mothers tried to wrap them in. husbands were encouraged to stand up for themselves and reassert the authority they were losing in an increasingly femininized white collar world.
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in 1990 it was a momism, woman who kept their sons tied to their apron strings, nagged their husband because they insisted on consumer items, boasted about the self-sacrificing, and demanded that politicians listened to them. it's no momism, communism. momism is a domestic side of the threat of communism. and the reason that 2.5 million american men had been found up fit for military service. it was their mom who set it up. in fact, one army information officer that mom and her pied have killed as many men as 1,000 german machine guns. by the 1950s, women's magazines were taking these ideas about the horrible affect of stay-at-home mothers and two involved wives into the gosh
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restores, the beauty shops, the suburban homes, accusing over protective moms of creating everything from homosexuality to fascism. in one lady's home journal, if hitler's mom wasn't that over protective, history might have taken a different course. what was even more confusing, i talked to women who read this. and how kind of demoralized they felt. these ideas were not just coming from reactionaries. the beat necks were as contemptuous of women than the men they disputed. liberals like ferdinand lundberg was just as condemning of moms as right wingers were. who called for a return to manliness in people like ayn rand who celebrated masculine aggression. they all blamed the problems
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they saw, the very different problems they saw in modern society on exactly the same source. woman. there was a 1956 book "the crack in the window" that eviscerated modern suburbia. a woman boss, and typical wife, a nagging slob. this was the antiwomen rhetoric. over devoted moms turned their sons into homosexuals. she used it to turn the discourse on its head. in order to avoid this, we should let women have some interest of their own. but this lack of respect for moms was what permeating the culture. and the lack of rights for homemakers.
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i think would stun most modern women. in 1963, only eight states gave a wife a legal claim to the husbands earnings or property. in the other 42, she had the right to be supported. that was leeway when one kansas woman sued in court to get her quite well off husband to install running water, the kansas supreme court rebuffed her. in all by four states, the man had the right to decide where the couple legally was residence. and, in fact, if the man moved and the wife refused to follow, she could be charged with desertion and in the divorce system, he could win a divorce from her. and if you had a rotten marriage, you know, too bad. marital rape was a legal and possibility. because a women's marriage vows
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were held to imply permanent consent. marriage counselors of the era told women that almost any marital problem they experienced from infidelity to domestic violence resulted from a failure of their femininity. infidelity, check and see if you keep yourself groomed enough. are you a good housekeeper? maybe you are so efficient and aggressive that your husband feels the need to reestablish his manhood. this was in a journal published by the american medical association in 1964. now i'm not saying that all homes were marked by that kind of dysfunction. many husbands, of course, treated their wives very well. many homemakers were quite content. again, when you actually look at the definition of content, what i think most modern women and men would be shocked by what was considered to be a happy marriage.
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just a month before "the feminine mystique" hit the stands, gallop took a poll. he found american housewives were the happiest people on earth. what did it take to make them happy? man number one. one woman said being subordinate giving her pleasure. a woman needs a master slave, whether it's a husband and wife, or boss and secretary. and just sentences after describing how happy women are that they had all of the rights they wanted. they just didn't care to use them. gallop noted it was hard because some of the husbands wouldn't let them talk. it's no wonder that homemakers in the 1950s, some homemakers in the 1950s from all income groups were extremely insecure
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about their role in society. they were actually more likely than women who worked outside the home to suffer from low self-esteem and depression and more likely -- ironically though, the ones who were the most likely to turn this inward and to really feel depressed were the people that we might think at first glance would have been the homemakers who would have been most comfortable. women who had chosen to give up their jobs or their education in order to become wives and mothers because they thought that is how they would find the most happiness, and who believed they ought to find owl -- find all of their satisfactions within the home. these women were more likely than any other to devalue themselves and doubt their own work. they even assess their own child care skills more negatively than either less educated, less fortunate stay-at-home mothers
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or equality educated working moms. today, unlike today, moms who worked outside the home were more confident than the middle class home workers. i set out as i listened to the women talk. i set out to figure out why were these women so responsive? why did they feel so lost? and it seems to me what friedan did was have it's biggest exact on women who were part of a generation caught between two words. back in the early 20th century, if you wanted an education, you were defying the role of women to event want an education. most women who went to college in those days either considered themselves feminist or were already quite atypical in their lives. and they continued to be after they got their education. they went on and did become professionals. by, of course, the 1960s and '70s, the daughters of the
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so-called -- the women of the so-called greatest generation did expect that they would do to college and the use what they learned outside. but the women caught in between were the ones for whom suddenly it had become respectable and even desirable for a woman to go to college, but not to use her education afterwards for anything but to be a wife and mother. the president of radcliffe college, harvard's female counterpart, every year assured the incoming freshman what would happen to them at this school was that they would become educated to be splendid wives and mothers. in fact, during the period, women were told one the main points of going to college was to get your mrs. if you failed to get that degree, to take that degree, the instance it was offered, the
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bachelors degree you might be permanent life fate that you were left without. the only higher degrees that women were encouraged to get, it was called by advise books as the bright new trend of getting your pht, putting hubby through. a lot of women in the audience just nodded. younger womens jaws drops when i tell them that. women took the advise seriously. in the 1920s, women who went to college were less likely to drop out before graduation than men. but by the 1950s and early '60s, they were twice as likely to drop out as men, and by 1960s,60% of women who entered college for dropping out. almost always to get married. unlike today, the more well read you were, the more you knew as an educated woman it was not natural to like your education very much or any other activities that were not
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directly to home making. women who attended college in the 1950s and early 1960s were especially likely to have been taught the scientific, so-called scientific views of psychiatrist and sociologist than any women that wanted more meaning in life than we found in the kitchen and nursery suffered from psychological adjustment. elaine deutsch say women give up their aspirations voluntarily. not as coercion, but voluntarily, because the normal women finds her greatest satisfaction in her husband's achievements. magazines -- i went through the magazines targeted to both blue collar women and middle-class women in that era. also to educate the black women. it was the ones targeted to educated white middle-class women who were most likely to
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promote the views of freudian psychiatrist of what is healthy and unhealthy gender roles. my result is that educated housewives who didn't feel what they had learned and educate had taught them, they ought to be feeling were more likely than any other group to turn this inward and into a feeling of special kind of misery and self-doubt and to think it must be their own inadequacy. it's true, many critics over the years have complained that friedan's book tended to have the most emotional residents for these middle-class women with slightly more education than usual. and especially, though not exclusively, to those who had or aspired to more education that was normal for a women in those days. at first when i was working on this book, it bothered me. she didn't deal with working class women, african-american
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women, but the more i worked on this book, i more i learned a lesson that perhaps i should have learned, you know, before i reached this age. you know, it's common enough in your 20s when you have the moral hierarchies. the more i began to realize that you don't have to make a virtue hierarchy of who's paying counts for more? the pain of a working class woman or low paid factory worker or clerk who had an exhausting job at work and equally exhausting job at home or the pain of a black woman who couldn't protect her kids from racism, no matter, you know, if both she and her husband were working and no matter how educated they were. that was different and more immediate and some ways more urgent than the stress facing a middle-class women as a homemaker finding out that she didn't believe it was as good as she knew it ought to be. but i don't think the pain of
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those homemakers was trivial or should be discounted. and it was more -- because it was in some ways more bewildering, because they knew they had privileges. these were not -- sometimes people write to me when they first heard i was doing the book. i don't have much sympathy for bored middle class housewives. first of all, most of them moved into the mid of class through marriage or when their parents had moved up and sent to college. they knew they were privileged. over and over again they would say to me, i remember one in particular who said, you know, there were black children being beaten for trying to go to school down south. there were children in appalachia with belly swollen from hunger. what right did i have to feel so bad? and many of them who's mothers would say i would have given my teeth for a home like you have you undesperateful person.
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lilian rueben's mother said treat her like a dog. she's ungrateful. these people just felt terrible about the way they were feeling. if you don't feel you are a right to have pain, and in some ways it's more demoralizing. and in many ways, friedan anticipated the bill clinton feel your pain, the oprah approach. however, unlike these self-help books that followed her, she said like the self-help books, you are not alone. your pain is valid. it's okay to feel this way. you are not abnormal. but she also said the fact that you feel this way is a symptom of a larger social and political problem. so as one of my -- the women that i talked to said it might have been the first self-help book i read, but it was the last one i needed once i got that message down. now friedan has rightly been criticized for ignoring the special needs of working class white women and african-american
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women. and i found some fascinating research that i won't go into about the differences in those groups. black women in particular, though i really want to mention because of course it is true, they often had to work. even if they were college graduates. and a lot of people have argued, and i believed before i, you know, reread the book that the problem with friedan's neglect of african-american women all the more ironic because she was a civil rights activist and was working to integrate her own neighborhood. she just ignored them completely in the book. which was very sad. the real problem was not as i believed when i first read this. many people have said. black woman would have loved to lead the lives of these women were leading. many of them would certainly have loved to get out of the demeaning, low paid domestic work that they were stuck in in this period.
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and that friedan and paula murray later helped get them out of with the -- once they became activist in the national organization for women. but they were also much more likely than white women to see work and community activism as a central part of their identity. you know, it was not white feminist, but black leaders of the 20s and 30s who first raised the demand that a woman should have a three-part identity. as a wife, mother, as a co-provider for her family, and community leader and activist. when you ask white women, what are you going to college for? the white women would say better wives and mothers. the black women would say to be better members. not just to get a job, but to be better members of the community. i came to see the real tragedy of friedan's orientation to the -- on the exclusive group was
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that she could have pointed to the example to this demoralized group that didn't think it was possible to say yes. there are women who can be wives and mothers and can mind that identity as workers in community activist. and in support of that. let me mention the findings of sociologist bart landry who found that upper white middle class moms were the lead likely to work outside the home. but black upper middle class, the ones who could have afforded to stay home, were the most likely to work outside the home. and in white families when a husband didn't want his wife to work outside the home, 90% of the wives did not do so. but that was true for only about half of the black wives who husbands disapproved. and black husbands were less likely to disapprove. this could have been a model for her. i'm not saying the african-american was any feminist paradise. even rosa parks lawyer told her
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he thought women should be in the kitchen. i've come to believe it was her inability to expain to the white middle class women there were other models in the world. that's not the only problem with friedan's book. it's terribly dated in it's use of evidence and much of the assumptions, the homosexual one i find offensive. he didn't credit the intellectual and political sources of her ideas. and she later allowed to be given and occasionally claimed too much credit for launching the second wave of feminist. an older generation of feminist had been tenaciously working on behalf of gender and equality long before friedan started writing "the feminine mystique." a new generation of women came in the '60s, people like myself who had been activist in the civil rights movement and
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peace movement and really had not experienced the same kind of wife and mother type of mystique. but began to see that, huh, we are always the ones who are asked to make the coffee and take the notes. often as i know now, we haven't read "the feminine mystique." but friedan spoke to the layer of women that i've come to think of the sidelined wives and older daughters of the greatest generation that usually only means the men when people start referring to them. and these women might well have been lost. to the women centers that they helped found, the women studies departments that they went into, the battered women shelters that they help found, and even just to themselves. had friedan not reached out to them in the language of the womens magazines and using -- this nonpolitical personal
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language convinced them this was a social injustice that needed to be addressed. now i want to leave time for questioning and for informal conversations. so just let me end by mentioning a couple of the other things that i came to appreciate as i researched the book. one was the price that men paid for this division of labor that prevailed in the '50s and '60s. men you have a lot more privileges then than now. i have certainly run into men that are nostalgic for those days. but they constantly had to prove their entitlement to such privileges to other men. they had to create that manhood every day by challenging the masculinity of other men, and suppressing their own softer
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impulses. women tepidded to become depressed when they reached their cull culmination, i'm a we and men. this is all there is. men didn't find out this is all they did of their culmination of their life, when they retired with a gold watch and pension and found out they were strangers to their own children and their own wife. you know, it gave me actually much more empathy for the guys in the position. i talked to a lot of young men in particular who vowed they were not going to make their father's mistakes. as a result, some of them had seen their mothers reading "the feminine mystique." i knew it was a banned book that dad shouldn't know about. going off and reading him himself, it changed what he wanted out of marriage and myself. i talk in the last chapter of my book about some of the gains that women had made and not made
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since then. i want to end by suggesting that ironically one of the things that we really owe to the work of friedan and other second wave feminist in that era that so many of these things are not just womens issues anymore. you know, for example, men now report greater work family conflict than women do. largely because feminism has raised the cultural expectation of men's participation in family life. and it's made our world much more complex than when it was just, you know, the low-hanging fruit of ine -- of the legal inequalities to fight. enough women have cracked the glass ceiling or gotten up to the top through the excavator. now the lack of good jobs, living wages, and meaningful work can no longer be seen as something that all women suffer from, or that only women suffer from. especially with the sorts of
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things happening to real wages of men. and meanwhile, the intersection of the masculine mystique in some ways disadvantaged low income men in comparison to the family counterparts. even though it's true that traditional prejudices against mothers continued to plague both homemakers and working women alike. the old feminine mystique maybe gone, but the counterpart, the career mystique for men is currently there. there are new mystiques for women that kick in at other ages. what i call the hottie mystique. you can do anything the guys can as long as you have sexy every moment that you are doing it. and the other is motherhood mystique. yes, you can do all of these other things. but you have to be an absolutely
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perfect mother and you should fight with other women about what it is that makes for perfect mothering. but i wanted -- i want to leave time for the questions. so i want to end by saying this was one of the most moving books i've ever researched, largely because of the stories that i heard from these women. but also because in researching it and in talking to the women and men who shared their stories with me, i'm really -- it really did renew any confidence. and i have to admit it's sometimes flagged in the last ten years. that when enough people start asking questions and naming problems that have not yet been named, we can work together to find answers and to implement solutions. and we can come extraordinarily long way in what has really been an extraordinarily short period of time. if we could turn over the map of
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laws and social prejudices that existed back in the mid 1960s as much as we have, we can move forward from the problems that are plaguing us now. that's worth being reminded in a period that is sometimes very pessimistic. so i feel -- i felt better finishing this book. i hope that you'll find some hope in it. and let's open it up to questions or mens from the -- questions or comments from the audience. please. [applause] [applause] >> please come to the mike though so that we can get the questions or comments on tape. >> so i was wondering if in the process of interviewing people for the book that you actually interviewed any women who, you know, identified as working class or who were african-american or otherwise minorities and what their experience of reading the book
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is. obviously the problem with the book is that it doesn't speak to these women. whether being a working class or minority woman and reading the book sort of helped them get to feminism anyway, or turned them away from the larger project of feminism in general? >> i thought -- i interviewed several african-american women. many of the -- the ones that were turned off didn't finish. they read enough to know it wasn't relevant to them. i found at least three african-american women who had gone on to become professionals and who really felt the book helped them. they understood that it didn't talk to their experience as blacks, but that it did speak to their experience and fears as women. and the interesting thing about working-class women, i interviewed a lot of women who were working-class women and who's mother definition of moving into the middle class was to tell them you are not going
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to have a job like i do. your way of moving to the middle class is to get married. and to settle down. and these women said that they didn't want the same kind of job their mother had, but they did want a job. so they really liked the book because it helped them think through that way. there were plenty of them who wrote it off. but i -- my remarks, fairy, i don't know if i'm pronouncing her name right. when she read the book, the other other thing that bothered her, friedan seemed to think that women could get self-confidence and meaning only from high prestige academic jobs. she went out and interviewed women who did the kind of job that friedan stuck her nose up
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at. slopping food on to plates in cafeteria. these women said i'm proud of what i do. i'm good at it. i like the social interactions. she found when you looked at, and lots of studies backed her up. when you look at blue collar housewives, they were less contemptuous of house work than their middle class counterparts. and less worried about whether they were normal if they did want to go to work. but in general, in them as well as in the middle class, women who worked outside the home were less depressed than women who worked inside the home. and that held across classes. other people. >> thank you so much. i'm very interested in vivian
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mornick's and the cold war what affect that had on feminist. i haven't read your book. i'd love to know what you have to say about mccarthyism, and freudian. >> there's several ways that mccarthyism is relevant. friedan left the association. she was never a member of the communist party. she had been around lefties and seen what happened to them in mccarthyism. she wasn't going to be painted by that brush. that was a period when, you know, i'm sure most of you have heard of what happened during the red scare and mccarthyism. and the people would be blacklisted from jobs not just because they had been communist, but if they had known anybody who had known anybody that belonged to an organization that might have been associated with
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communist. it was a terrible time. it was a terrible time. my own mother said it was a time where you wanted to pull the covers over your head. all of these groups were badly impacted. the other thing that hurt feminism in the 30s and 40s was a lot of progressives turned their attention to the fight against nazism, fascism, and so feminism fell on hard times. plenty of women continued working behind the scenes. but they were quieter and less assertive than they had been in the 20s. >> hi, i'm jen, i teach classes in gender and politics in hunter college. it's such a pleasure to get to hear your work. i work in gender equality, and the substance with men and the impact of friedan's work. the question that i have is the ways in which you work on the
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books enhances and sharpens some of the conclusions that you came to in the way we are. in terms of domestic labor today. that aren't just the question of work -- i mean we talk about that around work family balance. but given the kinds of career pressures that you've just, you know, finished referring to, it seemed odd that there are so few sharp ininterrogations of the fact that solution still looked like friedan's. but women, or families, but really women, hire another woman to come into the house and perform domestic labor. i wondered what you -- more about what you thought looking back at this book again. >> well, one of the ways in which friedan was correct and she was mocked a lot for doing this. friedan has been painted by people who never read her as anti-male and anti-marriage. actually she was romanically pro male. people who know her said she was
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the biggest flirt that you could ask for. she loved flirting with guys. she said she wanted her epitaph to read she made women feel better and therefore better in the relationships to men. she had the idea if women and men shared, their marriages would be better. turned out she was more right than the sociologist that predicted it would lead to conflict. there was an increase in the diverse right once the women got the right. also a lot of increase in male-female conflict when they first began entering the work force and demanding that men step up to the plate. one the things we've seen, and something that isn't publicized in the press, the divorce rate has been falling and falling the most among couples and people who have galtarian views.
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we have to fight of this as a women's issue. i understand. i'm sympathetic with couples in the crunch and with the lack of friendly work policy that is we have in the united states. i started to call them knee kne- knee anderral. whatever we want to call it. a lack of work family policies. the wife is going to quick work. the problem is it's going to be hard to getting back into, and getting back on to the onramp, but also in solving the problem that way, she's depriving her husband or her partner of equal access to the kids and the kids of equal access to her.
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elaine did a book called ask the children. who would ask? you know? and she found that the children of working parents didn't want more time with their mother, if they wanted more time with anybody, it was more time with their father and they wanted their mother to stop feeling so guilty and stressed about their work. so we really do have to rephrase this as a female-male issue and an issue that challenges this whole definition of work that was formlated when "the feminine mystique" did make women stay home and weren't allowed to think about anything else. yes? >> it's nancy mcderrmott. i helped run an infamous parenting group of affluent parents.
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i wanted to ask about middle class parents and mothers. you know, i see a lot of hostility to helicopter parents now, or the amy chas of the world. i have to say it kind of drives me crazy, i can also see this sort of scapegoating of parents has it's counterpart in parents who are not working class. so there's seems to be a movement to kind of redefine poverty as a deficit of parenting. so there's a counterpart. and i'm just wondering, you know, given the experience of having, you know, looked at what happened in the '60s, do you see any parallels with things going on today? and also, you know, how do you -- how do you explain that connection? because at last connection between the things that happened to people in the middle class and the way it works itself out through society? >> okay. there's a lot of issues there.
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one big difference was the 1960s is that we feel much more compelled to spend much more time interacting with our kids. in fact, the studied show that parents today, mothers as well as fathers, fathers have been expotentially more time than they did in the '60s, but mothers too. stay-at-home mothers spend slightly more times than working moms, but working moms spend more time interacting than stay-at-home moms did in the 1960s. some of that is good. if you pay attention to kid. if you have ever watched "madmen" and betty draper, go play with the plastic shirt that the cleaner came in. very realistic. there's a reason they put the warnings on them. these -- part of it is, i think, good. but another part of it reflects
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the collapse in the society of a sense that we owe our children something collectively. and we're asking parents to prepare our kids for the world of work and the world of competition in way that is we once expected the community to prepare them. and so you are getting this -- and particularly with the -- what people have called the hollowing out of the middle class. you know, if you make it, you can make it very, very high. if you don't, you are falling down more. it's harder and harder for families to see their children replicate their own sort of middle ground. the result is, i think, parents are feeling more and more pressure to give their children every jump start they can. again, understandable, but it exacerbating the problem. if you -- two economist recently compared the time that educated americans spent with educated canadians. they found that all groups in both countries had increased their time with kids.
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but that the educated american parents had just increased it tremendously. whereas the canadians hadn't done so. and they suggest that it has to do with the difference in the hierarchy of the universities there. that the canadian regional universities are all about the same. they don't have the same steep hierarchy of these high prestige colleges. so their parents can be more relaxed. you get into college. you are going to do okay. whereas the americans are, i got to get into the very best. and again, as another good example of how this just exacerbates the problem, becomes a vicious cycle. and in another study shows that in the united states, 40% of a parent's income advantage is passed on to the child. compared to canada where only 20% is passed on. so the more that we institutionize and harden the passing on of social inequality, the more parents are going to feel desperate to fall at an
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individual level, instead of at a social level. other comments. >> hi. my name is jennifer. ii haven't read "the feminine mystique." i lived with my feminist mother. i should read it. i'm looking forward to reading your book. company, i think those of us who came after and we are considered that third wave feminist and the combat that happened. if you could speak more to that. we are all kind of struggling through it in terms of classes and social definitions of socialism versus capitalism. but, you know, i think it's interesting that working class women were so much more comfortable with who they are
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and that three person paradigm, and that women of privilege where so psychologically tortured in some ways, and that, i think it's heroic that she spoke to her own group. it would have been almost too much to speak to the worldwide group of women at that time. she had to speak to her group that she knew. but, you know, -- and i didn't finish school. i'm finishing school now. and i spent a lot of time, i gave up school. i had a career. somehow because it wasn't educated bounds, and raised a daughter who is now in college traveling. and i think i kind of adopted in some ways the rebellion to the need for myself in order to give to her that i saw my mother struggle with and more of a
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working class woman's perspective of needing to lift my child to a different place instead of myself. it's a struggle with that whole issue, those issues of self-indulgence, versus self-care. i think this is the mommy war thing. the second versus the third and the mommy wars. could you touch upon this? i don't know if you touched upon this much in your book. could you touch upon it here? >> let me make one thing clear. that's the working glass -- work ing class women were not comfortable, except for a material want, i'm feeling good in my skin. they had a different kind. i was lucky enough to run across the marvelous source which was the in-depth interview that took many years of market research
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for true confessions magazine. and "true confessions" magazine was marketed to the wives of middle class workers. what makes the women tick as opposed to telling the middle class women. what makes these women tick. they did some interesting comparisons that i just thought were so interesting. they would show and tell stories and they would ask the middle class women and working class women to finish the stories or show them pictures. one that really stood out to me is they showed the women a picture of a women in the middle of the room with a lot of people pointing fingers at her. and the middle class -- the working class women said she's done something wrong. she's going to be punished. she's bullied. she's in trouble. they are going to come get her. she's stolen something. and the middle class women said her conscious is hurting her.
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so -- and there was tremendous -- the working class women stories always ended sad if they saw somebody stooping over someone else, they thought the person was being beaten up. whereas the middle class women thought the person was being helped up, you know? these women very, very insecure because of the external facing them in the world. they lived tough lives. whereas the middle class women were more secure in material ways and more inclined to doubt themselves ifs they were not happy with those secured lives. so i think that for me it was helpful to get past some of the class differences that are always raised. the other thing in terms of the sacrifices that mothers make, writing this book was really good for me. because it helped me -- it -- so many woman told me that reading
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"the feminine mystique" helped them understand and forgive their mother. one of them said it was like going back and getting to see my mother's whole life, the director's cut so that i understand why she had been pushed in one direction and another direction. and working class women said now i know why my mom pushed me so much and did damp down my dreams and aspirations because of what she went through. probably the most stunning quote was from a women who's very severely depressed mom wrote her a six page letter when she was 15, away at camp saying about how wonderful the "feminine mystique" was. she went back later and think i only understood my mother two times. one when i read the book of job,
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and once when i read "the feminine mystique." >> i wanted to say i grew up in the period that friedan was writing about. i read it. and it described the life of my mother as if the whole book was written about her. i know many other people had that reaction to it for themselves or women that they knew. my mother graduated -- started brooklyn college at 16, graduated at 19, was a teacher, was a magazine editor, had a lot of life of her own before she married. my father was older, she thought he was doing her a favor by taking her out of the work force. and that favor destroyed her life in a lot of ways. and so when i read that book, i immediately understood the truth of it. i know there are problems with
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the book. as you've discussed, and i'm sure will be discussed much more in your book. i know that betty friedan did some things after "the feminine mystique" that weren't always glorious and bad. in my mind, she's an incredible hero and pioneer. i don't think she's nearly as celebrated as she should be. i think that, you know, perhaps, it's still too close to when she lived. we still have people alive who fought some of the battles against her and have reason to have grievances. but i absolutely believe over time people will understand more that was a great, great hero, visionary pioneer who's book was just a gem that has made all of our lives better. [applause] >> okay. sounds like some other people agree. let me add one thing.
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i said "the feminine mystique" was dated. let me hot if i that. it's also important, it is able to get in a spiral of self-doubt and self-esteem when you are isolated. i have two examples that brought it home to me. one was a gay historian i interviewed who told me, you know, he had a job, his partner did not. his partner was staying home. terribly depressed. and he had his partner read "the feminine mystique." repellent though it was, in homosexual ways, it helped my partner. even know there are women in isolated areas who can read "the feminine mystique" and i got a
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letter about it. a man wrote to me. this was stunning. i listened to your interview on fresh air and what you described about how sad and low self-esteem these women had. i think i'm like that. i always wanted to become an academic. but my wife got a really high paying job. and i loved staying home with the children. and now she says you do it so well, you should stay with it. she goes over my finances, and she says you are spending too much on books. you know, you got to spend this time with your kids. and he said, and i just don't know what to do. and, you know, it just broke my heart. first of all, i'm not a psychologist. i don't like to play one, even on tv. but it felt as though he -- this isn't just a gender thing, okay. it can happen to men as well as


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